As promised in the last blog post I’m going to be talking about the default diary. In my mind it’s the single most powerful tool for helping you manage yourself and your time.
For those of you that don’t keep a default diary I can promise that by the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll be left thinking “that’s such an obvious idea, why on earth haven’t I always been doing this?”
What is a default diary?
In its simplest form a default diary is just a calendar of your week, with blocks of time pre-assigned to particular tasks you need to do. Something like this…
Surprisingly simple isn’t it? Here’s what you can do with it…
How to use your default diary
Focus on one thing at a time
Assign Monday mornings to admin, Friday afternoons to marketing, do your sales calls on Tuesday evenings, book this Thursday for training your sales staff. This is a revelation for a lot of people.
Suddenly your week looks totally different. You aren’t just rushing around putting out fires you’re concentrating completely on one area of your business at a time. By far the biggest benefit of the default diary for business owners is the sense of focus it creates.
- It means you’re working in a way that’s proactive not reactive
- You aren’t just blindly doing what comes up first
- You can’t avoid the tasks you don’t want to do
- It makes you focus on the important stuff not just the urgent stuff
Make a ‘tickler file’
As well as using your default diary to plan blocks of time to spend on certain areas of your business you can use it to remind yourself to do specific tasks. People often call this a ‘tickler file’ and it could be used to…
- Remind yourself to do repeating tasks – order more office supplies, review your quarterly goals
- Remind yourself to follow up on something – follow up with a networking contact, review progress on a task you delegated
I recommend Google Calendar for this. It has the advantage of being able to send you reminders as emails or as text messages. Plus it’s free and very easy to set up.
The main benefit of this strategy is that once you’ve set yourself a reminder you can stop worrying that you’re going to forget to do something – it frees up your attention and lets you fully concentrate on what you’re doing right now.
Schedule guilt-free blocks of time for relaxing
Your default diary shouldn’t be all about work. You should also schedule family and friend time, holidays, exercise etc. In fact they go into my diary first!
Here’s why this idea works so well:
- If you schedule some time for relaxing you have no reason to feel guilty about not working
- It stops you wasting your weekends and evenings doing half-hearted semi-work related stuff. (This is a very common problem. )
- It motivates you to get more work done when you’re in the office because you’ve got something to look forward to when you finish
- Healthy happy business owners are more effective business owners
What do I need to get started?
You can use an online calendar like Google Calendar or good old fashioned weekly planner. Apart from that there isn’t much else needed. I would recommend planning out your week the Friday before but of course that’s just personal preference.
One quick word of warning: during your first week you will probably massively over-estimate how much stuff you can get done. Don’t worry, it will take a little bit of trial and error. But once you realise how much more focused and in-control having a default diary makes you feel – you won’t ever look back.
Hopefully I’ve managed to sell the benefits of this approach well enough that a few people decide to give it a go. Please do share your experiences on the Facebook page because we always love to hear your stories. In the next blog post I’m going to be sharing some real life examples from business owners who have used the default diary to become more effective entrepreneurs.